Social media companies have always struggled to strike the right balance between allowing freedom of speech and moderating inappropriate content. But since Donald Trump entered the White House, this debate has taken a complicated new level: private companies should censor the President of the United States even if he violates the company’s posting guidelines
After years of waffling, Twitter has finally taken a stand this year, posted warnings of misinformation, and hidden (but not removed) calls to violence. Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would follow a similar set of rules and place a label on the content that it would otherwise remove if it weren̵
The change is part of a wider range of initiatives to combat misinformation during the election season.
In particular, Zuckerberg says:
Several times a year, we leave content that would otherwise violate our policies if the value of the public interest outweighs the risk of harm. It is often in the public interest to see politicians’ speeches, and just as news agencies report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it themselves on our platforms.
We will soon start marking some of the content we leave behind as it is considered up-to-date so people can know when it is. We will allow people to share this content in order to judge it, just like we do with other problematic content, as this is an important part of our discussion of what is acceptable in our society – but we will add a prompt, telling people that the content they share may violate our policies.
In addition, the Facebook CEO makes it clear that “there are none Relief from the topicality of content that encourages violence or suppresses voting. Even if a politician or government official says so, we will remove this content if we find that content can lead to violence or deprive people of the right to vote. “
Perhaps Facebook will actually do something about the president’s tendency to misinformation.
Other changes announced today include:
- Providing relevant information for voting during the pandemic: Facebook is setting up a voting information center to ensure that people can find factual information about how and when they can vote. A link to the Voting Information Center will be displayed on Facebook and Instagram above in the coming months.
- Combating voter oppression: Facebook marks posts discussing voting with a link to its voting information center. Within 72 hours prior to election day, the company will use its Elections Operations Center to respond quickly and remove false claims about election conditions. Posts that intimidate voters are also prevented from appearing at polling stations.
- Regulating hateful content in ads: Facebook says it is tightening the rules for dividing content into ads, and in particular its guidelines on “Prohibition of claims that people of a particular race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status pose a threat to physical security, health or the survival of others. We are also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads that indicate that these groups are inferior or that they express contempt, dismissal or disgust at them. “
Facebook has also come under fire recently because ads appear alongside hateful content, forcing many advertisers to boycott the network. Zuckerberg did not go into detail about how he intends to address these specific concerns.
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